“Heart” by ‘Nathan Burgoine from Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction (Cleis Press, 2009).

This story is bittersweet. Both times I’ve read it I’ve cried, but I really like Aidan and Miah (short for Jeremiah), and think you will, too. I also like ‘Nathan’s take on the world. In every story by him that I’ve read so far there is a magic pool of energy or life force that some people—usually kind, deserving people—can tap into to right wrongs or even the playing field or just make life a little less painful. Would that it were so. 

Aidan works in a gym. Miah has a heart condition that makes just being on his feet something of a strain. They meet in a bar and bond over their shared love of books. Soon they are boyfriends, and then Miah is moving into Aidan’s apartment.

Aidan is one of the special souls who have a gift for tapping into the life force. He calls his ability “the font” because he has the capacity for holding a little more of the aforementioned magic energy than he needs for himself. His grandmother had it, too, and she taught him how to transfer his excess energy to other people. Sounds great but there’s a limit and a cost for exceeding it. Aidan knows this for a fact because he saw his grandmother pay it. How far will he go to heal sweet Miah? How far should he go?

I’m getting really curious about the author’s entry in the noir story collection Men of the Mean Streets. Can it possibly be in this same vein? Surely not.